Are Vinyl Windows Right for Me?

If you’re considering vinyl windows you’re probably doing so because you’ve seen how affordable they can be. Compared to aluminum, fiberglass and especially wooden windows vinyl looks like a serious bargain. The price isn’t the whole story though, and while it might seem like a great deal to get vinyl windows put on your home, you have to weigh the pros and cons of such a decision very seriously.

vinyl window
A Vinyl Window – Image Source

What Are Vinyl Windows?

Vinyl windows are windows with PVC or polyvinyl chloride frames. The frames are made from the same stuff that’s used to make plumbing pipes for your home, except they have added chemicals to protect them against the sun, and dyes to give them a different color.

The Pros

The main pro that you’ll enjoy from vinyl windows is that they are incredibly affordable. They are generally several hundreds cheaper than any other type of window. Not only are they affordable but they provide pretty high levels of insulation as well. Vinyl doesn’t readily conduct heat like aluminum does. The window frames are hollow on the inside and you can actually have the frame filled with foam insulation to bring the insulation factor up even higher.

Vinyl windows are also very low maintenance. They don’t have to be painted and will generally hold up quite well with little more than a washing once and awhile.

The Cons

While there are some real benefits to going with vinyl windows, there are some serious downsides as well. Compared to all the other window frame types, vinyl just isn’t that durable overall. It fails in around half the time as most other window options and you shouldn’t expect more than 15 years out of your windows, 20 if you are really lucky.

There are a few reasons that vinyl windows are so much less durable than other options, but the main reason is that vinyl expands and contracts about seven times as much as glass does with heat. That’s a whole lot of movement from a material that’s supposed to be holding panes of glass in place. Eventually the seals keeping the glass air tight fail and you lose all the insulation benefits of the windows. You are also pretty much stuck with the color vinyl that you pick out initially. The windows aren’t supposed to be painted and that means you pretty much have to leave them alone. You can’t change them around like you can wood and some other types of windows.

If you’re looking for cheap windows to put on your home, you really won’t find anything cheaper than vinyl. Just know that you’ll likely be replacing them sooner than you would other windows. If you aren’t planning on living at your home for more than 10 to 15 years the windows could be your best investment option, but if you plan on staying for longer than that you’ll get more value out of more durable windows.